Last weekend I got a loaner gift from my friend, Caro, (who has also declared herself as future catsitter – YAY!). A Jewish vegetarian cookbook, of all things – I guess I rarely think of Jewish and vegetarian food together, but in fact it does exist. At least if you extend yourself outside the typical Ashkenazi standard cooking repertoire. “Olive Trees and Honey” – a fairly dense and weighty book of recipes – that I paged through most of the week last week looking for something that would grab me. In the end, yesterday morning my page turning stopped at Sambusak. Maybe a bit cliche for me, I love every variation of these things – “turnovers.” In this case, the Sambusak is from Iraq, but really it could be from almost anywhere. Relatives abound: the Indian Samosa, the Italian Calzone, the Lebanese Fatayer – basically, a pocket-sized savory pastry filled with something yummy. I decided to try them out. I love the practicality of them – all of them – you can make a couple dozen, eat a few, freeze the rest. Two or three of them pack up nicely as lunch. They can be quickly defrosted and thrown in the oven when an unexpected guest shows up. They’re just good to have around.
Yesterday was pretty much run run run, no time to do anything other than quickly buy a few grocery ingredients in the afternoon, but today I had a leisurely morning, so I took the time to make them for a few hours. Of course there were substitutions from the first second, but most of them fairly tame. I didn’t have any semolina flour. But I did have chickpea flour and I thought the flavor might pair really well with the fillings I was making (spinach, chickpea). It did.
I was worried that the chickpea flour might make a dough that was really tough and unmanageable; it didn’t. I didn’t have any pine nuts, but pistachios worked just fine. Etc.
As with any wrapped up folded up item, putting them together takes some time, but it is a chance to do some meditating, no? Just sit there, roll, scoop, fold, fork. One after the next. It goes fast with some music in the background.
And? Caro, I can recommend them. I just had them for dinner (and I confess, lunch as well), and they’re a cute little pastry. I like that they are baked, not fried. I can imagine trying out the yogurt cheese filling. I can also imagine trying out a non-veggie filling – perhaps some ground lamb thrown in with the spinach.
I’ll keep looking through the cookbook for some more recipes. For now, I have some sambusak to eat.